As Congress and the President debate the fate of military installations and assets named after Confederate leaders, the Navajo Nation is urging lawmakers and the White House to consider “Native American warriors who sacrificed and contributed to the development and longstanding history of the United States through their military service,” in a statement Friday.
“Despite our significant contributions to this great country, our military achievements and stories by our Native American warriors are often left untold,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said in the statement.
"The First Americans of this country should be the first to be recognized and honored through the renaming of the Fort Bragg military installation after a Native Veteran,” Nez added.
The Navajo’s most celebrated contribution to the military was the Navajo Code Talkers – a group of Navajo speakers who used the particularly challenging language as a secret code during World War II. The US military had also used the Choctaw language during World War I as part of its secret code, but Germany and Japan had worked to learn Choctaw and other Native American languages during the interwar period, according to the CIA.
However, Nez also noted that “our Native American warriors have served in every branch of the military at a higher rate than any other demographic in the United States.”
“The Navajo Nation calls upon our congressional leaders and federal partners to move forward with the renaming of military bases after Native American Service Members,” said Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer.
“We also urge Congress to develop landmarks and monuments to help solidify the contributions of Native Americans within the landscape of American history,” Lizer added.